This story is a work of Highlander fan-fiction, a non-profit, amateur piece done without the permission of Rysher Entertainment. It is in no way intended to infringe upon Rysher's rights to their world or characters. I would like to thank my beta-reader, Oniongirl, for her suggestions.
Andres Cenonadhis was in his study, only partially reading the book he held while discretely observing the man who was writing at his desk. The new translator Stefano had sent him seemed to be working out nicely. Lysander had reacted well to the unusual nature of the text Andres had asked him to convert, an important trait in any potential Watcher. As the translation progressed, Andres had explained the true purpose of the volume to Lysander, in the hopes that he would choose to stay once his paid commission was completed.
A knock on the door interrupted Andres' thoughts and he went to answer it. The face of the man who stood there was unfamiliar, but Andres recognized the medallion instantly, as it matched the one he wore himself. "Come in."
The man nodded as he entered. "I am Emmanuele Gallo, from Venice. My..." Emmanuele trailed off as he noticed the translator at work past the open study door.
"This is Lysander." Andres gestured towards the young man who looked up and nodded at the sound of his name. "He's almost finished translating one of our Arabic Chronicles into Greek for me and..." Andres stopped himself from saying that he wished Lysander would do more. Since any further work Lysander did for the local Watchers would have to be unpaid, Andres preferred not to bring up the subject until he had to, in the hope that Lysander would raise it first. "He's the fastest translator I've had the pleasure to work with and speaks three other languages besides," Andres finished instead. He turned back towards the desk. "Lysander, this is Emmanuele, one of our agents."
Lysander nodded. "Hello. The work you do seems quite fascinating," he said politely. Meeting Andres' eyes, he added, "But I have only five pages left before I'm finished with this volume."
Andres laughed and gestured Lysander to continue his work. "Then don't allow us to interrupt you." Turning to face Emmanuele, Andres prompted, "You were saying something about your assignment?"
Emmanuele nodded. "She just moved here from Venice. I followed her to make certain the transition went smoothly, though I do have to return to Italy myself." Emmanuele held out the three books he carried. "These are her Chronicles, though I'll tell you the basics. Her name is Radella with no known aliases."
Occupied by the transfer of books and information, neither Watcher noticed when Lysander paused in his writing, listening intently.
"She's English born and approximately two hundred years old," Emmanuele continued. "She's only taken one head, but has had two students. The first one disappeared and was presumed dead. The other one graduated five years ago and is living in Rome."
Andres walked over to a book shelf in the study where he carefully placed the volumes he had been given. "How long can you stay?"
"I was hoping to start back tomorrow," Emmanuele replied. "Is that a problem?"
"Unfortunately, there are already two Immortals living in town and only one field agent besides myself. I'll send word to Athens asking for another Watcher, but it could take up to a week for one to get here, perhaps more if they're busy."
Emmanuele looked uncomfortable. "I suppose, if you really need me, I could stay a few days. But I just received a letter from home, informing me that my father is very ill, so I'd like to return as soon as possible. Could you ask them to put a priority on my replacement?"
"I'll do it," Lysander said suddenly, surprising everyone.
The Watchers looked at Lysander who took on an uncertain expression, as if debating whether he wished he could take back his words.
Andres sighed. "I appreciate the offer, and I must admit that I'd been hoping you'd want to join our organization, but you haven't had training. And to be perfectly honest, field work would be a waste of your talents." Andres indicated the almost finished translation on the desk behind Lysander.
Lysander glanced at the books. Inspiration struck and he replied quickly, "I could do both, especially if you allowed me to do the translation work at home." Addressing Emmanuele, he asked, "She's not dangerous, is she? I mean to mortals, that is."
Emmanuele shook his head, then turned to Andres. "Radella only uses violence in self defense, so she wouldn't hurt him just for following her. And if he did get caught, he could always pretend he found her attractive." He gave a small smile. "He might not have to pretend. If I were a few years younger and not a Watcher..."
Andres looked between Emmanuele's wistful expression and Lysander's hopeful one. He sighed. "I don't know. Sending a researcher into the field is bad enough, but you haven't even sworn the Watcher oath."
"I'll swear it now, if you'd like," Lysander offered.
Shaking his head, Andres replied, "We'd need at least an Area Coordinator here to officially admit you into the organization." He looked at Lysander seriously. "The current situation aside, would you like to be a Watcher? Our funds are limited, so you'd have to find time for paid translation work in addition to anything you'd be doing for us."
Lysander hesitated a moment, then nodded slowly. "I understand."
"I'm still not sure about your Watching Radella."
"He does already know about us and he is planning on joining," Emmanuele pointed out. "It's not like it hasn't been done before."
"Only in an emergency," Andres replied.
"But if I leave tomorrow, it will qualify as an emergency."
Andres studied Emmanuele for a while. The visiting Watcher really wanted to leave, but he would stay if he had to. Proper procedure might be to convince Emmanuele to continue to Watch Radella, but it wouldn't fair to him or his sick father when Lysander was willing to take over. The Watchers were a volunteer organization. Joining meant agreeing to certain rules, but members did have the right to insist on maintaining their personal lives too. Andres sighed and turned to Lysander. "All right, you can Watch Radella."
Lysander asked, "Will I be assigned to her permanently?"
The question surprised Andres. "Is that what you want?"
"I... Do I have to decide now?"
Andres shook his head. "We can start with a one week trial period. That way, you can decide if you'd like to keep the assignment on a permanent basis and I can determine if you're qualified to. I'll file a report explaining the situation, so that by the end of that time, you'll be able to swear your Watcher oath and receive your medallion. And so that there will be a replacement on hand if one is needed. And one more thing..." Andres smiled and offered his hand. "Welcome aboard."
It was a pleasant walk in the early spring weather as Lysander followed Emmanuele's directions to Radella's new residence. He decided that the meeting had gone well. Lysander had been nervous about volunteering for a field assignment, knowing full well that he couldn't successfully shadow an Immortal for the amount of time that such would normally require. However, Andres would much rather have him assigned to doing translations, making it quite easy to change his mind about field work if he had to.
The address was easy enough to find and Lysander positioned himself a safe distance away, all his senses on full alert. Radella appeared to be moving around quite a bit, presumably in her unpacking, and Lysander caught random glimpses of red-gold hair through each of the open windows as he waited.
Eventually, Radella appeared to finish, or at least take a break from, her unpacking. Lysander held his breath as she passed through the front door, but Radella turned away from him, towards the market. He breathed out slowly. Radella hadn't noticed him yet and, if he was careful, probably wouldn't for a while yet. Lysander intended to follow her discretely for as long as he could, though he did so more for the challenge than for the sake of the Watcher oath that Andres wished him to swear next week.
It took great effort to avoid detection in the marketplace and Lysander was proud of himself for succeeding. Unfortunately, he was unable to get close enough to see any of Radella's purchases, but at least he managed not to lose her completely. The most critical part was when Radella turned to head home again, but Lysander maneuvered around her flawlessly. He allowed himself to relax slightly on the return journey, realizing too late that he shouldn't have when Radella suddenly stopped walking, but he managed to duck behind a building before she had the chance to turn around.
Radella's expression turned to puzzlement. There was no one in sight, but she was certain they were there. She took a few cautious steps back the way she had come. The presence was unmistakable, but she still couldn't see anyone. "It's okay. Don't be afraid. I won't hurt you," Radella reassured.
"It's not always a good idea to advertise that," an unseen voice cautioned.
Radella blinked. She knew that voice. "Methos?" As the eldest Immortal stepped out of the shadow of a building, she amended, "Or do you prefer to be called Adam?"
Methos smiled. "Actually, these days I go by Lysander Mylonas." He could get into serious trouble if caught talking to his assignment, but that would be nothing compared to the ruckus Radella could cause by revealing him as either her supposedly deceased former student or the highly elusive eldest Immortal.
"Lysander it is then," Radella replied with a smile of her own. When the elder Immortal said nothing further, she asked, "The people who were looking for you when last we met..."
"With your help, I was able to lie low long enough for them to lose interest." Methos smiled and neglected to mention that he was currently working for a later generation of the same group.
"I'm glad." Another awkward silence followed. Radella teasingly suggested, "Perhaps I should test you to see if you remember everything I taught you."
"I'd like that, but not right now." At Radella's surprised expression, he added, "You actually did teach me a few new maneuvers. Besides, judging by your fight with Breit, you were holding back almost as much as I was during our training sessions."
Understanding appeared in Radella's eyes. "You want to know just how good I really am."
"Then we'll have to find time for it later. Now isn't good for me either. I just moved into town and still have a good deal of unpacking left to do. However, if you'd like to help, or at least keep me company..." Radella looked at him hopefully.
"Lead on." Lysander gestured in the direction Radella had been walking in when she had sensed him.
"I managed to find another student. A real one this time," Radella said conversationally as they unpacked.
"Oh?" Lysander knew that much from Emmanuele. "How do I compare?"
"Even holding back, you're a much better swordsman. Then again, your skill was about the maximum believable for a mortal of your apparent age, so that isn't surprising. I can't really judge how quickly you learn, since you already knew most of what I was trying to teach you." She looked at Lysander carefully. "Unless you're looking for pointers for next time you try such a masquerade."
Lysander shook his head. "I really wasn't intending to fool you in that way. While I usually pretend to be younger than I am, that's a bit extreme when I can admit to my Immortality."
"By the way, how did Terrell get the better of you?" Radella wondered.
"You didn't figure that out?"
Radella considered a moment. "It wasn't Terrell?"
Lysander shook his head. "He did challenge me to a rematch, like he claimed, but I defeated him easily. I was trying to scare him off and someone else got me from behind while I was distracted."
"And, of course, I was so sure that was your first death..." Radella had a musical laugh. "So what are you up to these days?"
"My current identity is a translator, fluent in five languages."
"Really?" Radella looked at him. "Only five?"
"Five that I'll admit to," Lysander replied with a mischievous grin.
The next day, Lysander carefully concealed his sword in his cloak before leaving home. He walked to Radella's house, remaining cautious and alert as he traveled. None of the people he passed wore a medallion or displayed the slightest interest in Lysander, but that wasn't surprising. Emmanuele had just left town and if Andres or the other Watcher had the time to oversee Lysander, they wouldn't need the not yet officially recruited researcher to do the job of a field agent.
Lysander could sense that Radella was home as he approached and knocked on the door, but it was still a couple of minutes before she answered it.
"Forgive me for keeping you waiting, but I still have a lot to do before it really feels like home." She looked at Lysander hopefully. "Have you come to help?"
"Actually, I'm here to drag you out into the fresh air and sunshine and force you to enjoy some of the beautiful weather we've been having." Lysander grinned. "Besides, you said something about wanting to test me, didn't you?"
Radella sighed, turned towards the interior of the house, then looked back at Lysander. "All right. Let me get my sword." Without waiting for a response, she disappeared inside.
The eldest Immortal shook his head. He didn't always carry a weapon either but, even among friends, he still preferred not to draw unnecessary attention to that fact.
Once Radella returned, they made their way to a spot outside of town where they would be unlikely to attract curious onlookers.
They both started the fight rather cautiously. Methos made certain to include those maneuvers that Radella had shown him as early in the fight as possible. They exchanged blows for a while without either gaining the upper hand. Finally Radella managed a tricky maneuver that put the elder Immortal momentarily off balance.
"Nice move. Haven't seen it before," Methos commented, using his words as a distraction while he recovered. "Now how did it go again..." He repeated it flawlessly.
Radella barely got out of the way in time, but she stopped fighting. "You've seen it before. You must have."
Methos shook his head, lowering his own weapon. "No."
"Then you are a fast learner," she replied, impressed.
The ancient Immortal shrugged. "A useful survival trait."
Radella looked up and down the man who had survived the Game longer than any other Immortal. "I guess you would have quite a few of those."
Lysander smiled. "Don't sound so awed. I'm just a man; I'm not superhuman, or at least no more so than any other Immortal."
The younger Immortal relaxed and returned his smile.
They were walking in the market the following day when they sensed another Immortal. Radella started to look around, but Lysander said, "Excuse me," and headed back the way they had come.
The Immortal woman turned towards him. "Where are you going? Don't you want to know who it is?"
"I'm shy," Lysander responded, trying to lose himself in the crowd.
Radella shook her head, not just at Lysander's odd behavior, but at herself for not expecting it. After all, it was Methos' anti-social tendencies that had confused her so much when they had first met. The other Immortal was now coming into view, easily identifiable by the fact that he was looking for her as well. Radella walked over to him. "My name is Radella. I'm new in town."
"Galvin." He extended his hand, which Radella shook. "Would you like me to show you around?"
"Are you sure you don't mind?" As she spoke, Radella checked the direction Lysander had gone, but he was nowhere in sight. She turned back to the other Immortal. "I wouldn't want to inconvenience you."
"It would be my pleasure. There aren't many of our kind and even fewer as beautiful as you are." Galvin gave a sweeping bow in deference to that beauty.
Radella blushed as she glanced around once more for Lysander. Galvin seemed friendly enough not to warrant the eldest Immortal's paranoia.
"Is something wrong?" Galvin inquired. "Are you with someone already?"
The Immortal woman looked back quickly. "I..." If Lysander wasn't going to show himself was there any point in mentioning him? She smiled. "I'm presently unaccompanied and would like to see the city."
"Right this way." Galvin gestured in the direction he wished to begin the tour as he gave Radella another bow.
Radella started in the indicated direction and Galvin quickly joined her, giving a descriptive narrative as they traveled.
Neither Immortal noticed that a third one trailed them, carefully staying within range of their Immortal senses, so he couldn't reactivate them by straying too close, but still managing to remain out of sight. Someone else did spot the figure and walked over to join him.
"So, what do you think of field work?" Andres whispered to Lysander.
"It seems easy enough." Lysander smiled, but inside he worried that Andres might disrupt his concentration. Galvin might not be dangerous in and of himself, but he could easily expose Lysander to the other Watcher.
"You're not bored?"
Lysander gave a quiet laugh. "I could watch Radella all day and not get bored."
"Just make sure all you do is watch," Andres teased. "But remember to make some time for the translations."
"I haven't forgotten them," Lysander assured him. "In fact, since you can probably handle the tour without my help, I think I'll go work on them now."
Andres nodded agreement and Lysander scurried off, grateful for the reprieve.
The one week trial period seemed to fly by. Then again, it was a pitifully short amount of time to someone who had already lived through a few millennia. Lysander wanted more time with Radella, but he couldn't easily continue his friendship with her if someone else took over as her Watcher. That made his decision easy.
On the evening of the sixth day, Lysander brought the Chronicle he had been recording to Andres' house and gave it to him to look over. "There is a gap for when she was with Galvin, since I wasn't there the entire time," Lysander warned while Andres read. "I left a blank page because I presumed that I ought to copy the information from your entry in his Chronicle."
Andres looked up at the irritation Lysander couldn't quite keep out of his voice. "Is there something wrong with that?"
"No. It's just..." Lysander gestured helplessly. "When two Immortals interact, it appears difficult to manage to make both Chronicles complete without being redundant. I wish there was a more efficient way of keeping our records." He shook his head. "Unfortunately, there's no way to ensure that anyone looking up Radella will have access to Galvin's Chronicle as well."
"I admit that it would be nice if we all could travel with the speed of Hermes and so could keep the Chronicles in a huge central library somewhere," Andres said with a wistful smile. He sighed. "Unfortunately, we live in the real world." Holding up the Chronicle, he asked, "Do you still want to continue?"
"Yes, that is assuming you think I'm doing a good enough job."
Andres looked back at the book in his hands. He turned a couple more pages, skimming the contents. "It looks very good. I couldn't have done better myself."
Lysander smiled. His previous experience with Watcher Chronicles was much greater than Andres realized. Also, by not hiding from Radella, it was easier to track her daily activities, even when he wasn't actually present, since she would sometimes tell him about them later. Between the two, Lysander had worried that his records might even be too good. Luckily, Andres seemed no more suspicious of this skill than he or Stefano had been of Lysander's exceptional linguistics capability.
The Area Coordinator from Athens arrived the next day. He accepted Andres' glowing recommendation of Lysander to whom he presented a Watcher medallion once Lysander finished swearing the Watcher oath.
Of course, Lysander was already in the midst of a violation of that oath. Then again, even though the oath did not specifically require him to swear that he was not an Immortal, there was no way an Immortal could be a Watcher without violating aspects of both his own oath and those of everyone around him. That had applied every other time he had sworn the oath and it bothered Methos no more now than it had then.
In the weeks that followed, Lysander spent a great deal of time with Radella, though he resisted all her attempts to introduce him to Galvin. The fact that his Watcher field assignment also comprised the majority of his social life was probably what enabled Lysander to manage enough translations to both keep Andres happy and earn a living for himself. Andres seemed somewhat worried that Lysander would decide he was overworked and want to drop to the more normal load of a single Watcher assignment, as he kept asking for reassurance on that account, which Lysander always gave him.
Radella seemed not to notice or not to care that Lysander never invited her back to his residence, preferring to visit hers instead. At least she never commented on the fact. Lysander was reluctant to do as much as hold hands when they were in public, but he tried to suppress his nervousness when they were alone together. A part of him knew that a fear of getting caught couldn't entirely account for his aversion to physical closeness to Radella, but he did his best to ignore it.
Even though he couldn't hide his emotions from himself, Lysander apparently was successful at hiding them from Radella because, one evening, while they were sitting and talking at Radella's house, she impulsively leaned over and initiated their second kiss.
Lysander enjoyed it for a moment, but it brought back memories of their first kiss, half a century earlier, and Methos broke away. "This isn't working."
"Why not?" Radella was clearly puzzled.
Methos turned his head. "I'm falling in love all over again."
"You say that like it's a bad thing, but it isn't," Radella assured him. "And this time, there aren't the lies between us."
Angrily, Methos stood up and walked across the room.
"There aren't any lies, are there?"
The ancient Immortal whirled to face her. "There are always lies. There are always secrets. I lie to everyone. That's my nature."
Radella recoiled. Methos was angry with her for preferring truth in her relationships? No, she realized, he was angry with himself, though whether it was for lying to her or feeling guilty about it, she couldn't tell. "You are Methos," she whispered.
Methos sighed. "I thought you knew that."
"No... I mean, I did, but..." How could she phrase this? "I knew you were the legendary Methos, but somehow it just never really felt like you were the Methos of legend." Radella shook her head. "You really are everything they say you are... private, secretive, mysterious." She looked up. "You are used to lying to people, so why am I so different? Why does it bother you so much this time? Or do all your relationships end in disaster?"
"It's usually not like this." Methos' eyes drifted around the room, as if looking for inspiration from anywhere but Radella herself. "I don't know. Maybe it's the particular lies I have to give you." Even as he spoke, Methos knew that couldn't be it, at least not entirely. Usually his past with the Horsemen didn't bother him this much. Usually his skill at pretending to be other people was so good, he could almost fool himself, forgetting his past for a while. Finally he allowed his gaze to settle on the beautiful Immortal. Radella was beautiful, inside as well as outside.
"Whatever it is, you can tell me. I'll understand." Radella's voice and expression were meant to be reassuring, but they contained a trace of pleading.
Somehow Methos got the impression that what Radella wanted was not so much to know the truth, but to have it stop eating away inside him. Methos turned his head. "Don't say things like that," he reprimanded sharply. He couldn't imagine sweet, innocent Radella, whose stomach turned at the thought of her first and only Quickening, loving someone who used to rape and kill people for pleasure, no matter how long ago it was or how much he had changed since then.
"I can't imagine you doing anything so horrible I couldn't forgive you for it." This time Radella's voice held more than a hint of pleading.
That was it; he couldn't tell her because it was horrible. Even he could see that now. But perhaps he could tell her another secret - his current role as her Watcher.
Radella looked at Methos expectantly as he met her eyes.
"There are other people involved, not just me," he said at last. "Let me have some time to think about it."
Lysander found a quiet spot outside of town. He settled down at the base of a tree, leaning back against the trunk and looking up at its branches. Part of the problem, he decided,
was Radella's genuine innocence making his own facade ring hollow by comparison. But that innocence wasn't something he could change or even wanted to. He considered it something to be cherished and protected, never destroyed. The ancient, survivalist Immortal in him chided that the notion was irrational, but love wasn't a rational emotion.
Whatever Methos had been or done in the past, it was the past. In the present, he was a nice person, or at least could be when he wanted to, and right now he very much wanted to. He was capable of loving someone without destroying the object of that love. He merely had to allow himself to do so. But there was another complication involved in the current situation.
Sitting up, Lysander reached for the leather cord he wore around his neck and pulled it over his head. The medallion hidden under his tunic followed the cord it was attached to and Lysander caught it in his other hand. The way he normally wore the medallion concealed it from Radella's sight, but still kept it easily accessible in case they encountered another Immortal and his Watcher.
But if he made love to Radella, removing clothing in the process, the fact that the medallion was hidden would only draw more attention to it. Perhaps the passion of the moment would prevent her from asking what it was right away, but later, when he put it back on, or the next time they made love... Eventually she would wonder about it enough to ask him.
If he wanted to avoid that, he had to stop wearing the medallion. Quitting the Watchers would get someone else assigned to Radella, which would give him the choice between leaving her and admitting to the Watchers that he was in love with his assignment, something that the organization tended to frown upon. The alternative was to leave town. Radella would almost certainly agree to relocate if he said that would ease the tension between them, but she wouldn't like doing so, especially without an explanation.
Of course, if he told Radella about the Watchers, then he wouldn't have to worry about her spotting the medallion. Emmanuele's words came back to him and Lysander agreed with them. Radella wouldn't hurt someone just for following her. And she was unlikely to want to force information out of them. Lysander would have to choose his words carefully, but he thought she could accept that Methos' desire to lie to the Watchers didn't mean that their purpose wasn't important to him. While that was more of himself than he normally allowed another person to see, he wanted to share it with Radella.
Then again, that wasn't the only complication the Watchers caused. Andres' proximity was a constant reminder of the inherent contradiction in being both Radella's Watcher and her friend. Attempting to maintain two such mutually exclusive roles was taking its toll, making it difficult to completely immerse himself in either. Lysander was certain that his relationship with the beautiful Immortal would stop feeling so much like a lie if he didn't have to hide it anymore, allowing it to progress naturally from friendship to something more.
Slowly Lysander stood, returning the medallion to around his neck, but not bothering to conceal it this time.
As Methos entered Radella's house, her eyes were instantly drawn to the medallion he now wore openly. "That's an interesting design."
"You've seen it before," Methos commented, noting her gaze.
Radella nodded, her eyes remaining on the medallion. "What does it mean?"
"It's the symbol of a group of historians." Methos watched Radella carefully as he continued, "Mortal historians who record Immortal history."
"Mortals who know about us," Radella repeated uncertainly. When Methos nodded, she added, "But they don't know about you?" Radella wasn't entirely comfortable with either the idea of mortals secretly spying on her or Methos' apparent double standard.
"They know quite a bit about me, but haven't connected me to all of my aliases. They don't know I'm one of them."
"They're the people you were hiding from before?" Radella inquired.
Methos nodded. "One of my old friends unknowingly allowed his Watcher to overhear my real name. I don't want the Watchers to get too detailed a description of me." Methos took a deep breath and gazed unseeingly at the wall. "I frequently befriend Watchers. Sometimes those friends decide to recruit me and some of them find out who I am. In either case, I have the ability to discretely correct some of the inaccuracies in my Chronicles and those of my Immortal friends, or to supply missing information. So far all the Watchers who have known about me have agreed not to expose me to the rest of the organization. Doing so would either deprive the Watchers of my voluntary contributions or set a precedent for an exception to the Watcher oath that could get dangerously out of control if it started being applied to other Immortals."
"The Watcher oath," Radella repeated. "What is that?"
"Watchers swear to observe and record, but never interfere."
Radella considered this. The oath protected her and other Immortals from possible abuses of the information, but... "You're breaking this oath right now by telling me all of this?"
"Yes." The ancient Immortal looked back at her. "That's why I had to think about it so carefully."
"Then don't tell me any more." Radella reached over and gently took his hand. "I don't want to force you to break your promises."
"It's already too late for that." Methos sighed. "Talking to you, being your friend, loving you... They're all violations of my oath. On the other hand, not doing any of those things interferes with my life and, for all that I try my best to avoid the Game, I am still an Immortal."
"And not just any Immortal," Radella added supportively. "You're a living legend and probably the most historical person on the planet. You've certainly been alive for more of history than anyone else. But there is no need to tell me further Watcher secrets. I won't try to stop them from writing about me, but I have no wish to join them myself." Radella decided that she could live with the mortal historians. Their precautions against recruiting Immortals couldn't be foolproof if Methos had managed to slip in, but he'd be able to detect any who tried it with hostile intent.
Methos nodded. This time Radella's compassion was as comforting as it was meant to be. Not only had she seemed to accept that the Watcher oath was valid, but even understood that Methos, an Immortal, could wish to try his best to follow it. "In order for me to be with you, the way I want, we need to relocate somewhere without other Watchers."
Radella considered this. "Wouldn't your friends get suspicious?"
"Not if you died publically. You'd have to relocate then."
"No... I mean about your coming with me."
Lysander shook his head. "My current assignment is to observe you. If you leave, I'll be allowed a choice of whether to move myself or get a new assignment."
The next day, Lysander discretely followed Radella as she walked through the street, actually doing his job for a change. A man drove by him in a wagon, laden with goods to sell in the marketplace up ahead. Apparently too lost in her own thoughts to notice the wagon, Radella started to cross the street, stepping right into its path.
Even knowing that she would survive, knowing that he had asked her to do this, Lysander still had to avert his gaze. The sounds of the collision and Radella's cry, cut off as abruptly as it began, were more than sufficient to covey the gruesome details he was required to record.
The street quickly filled with the voices of various witnesses and concerned passersby, but the loudest were the horrified protests of the driver. "I tried to stop, really I did. She was too close. I never had a chance."
Lysander swallowed his guilt as he looked back at the scene. It was necessary, he reminded himself sternly. Without the witnesses, there would be no reason for Radella to have leave so suddenly and that required an accident that would be plausible in the middle of town.
Another Immortal suddenly approached, but Lysander kept his eyes firmly on the accident. Galvin headed straight for Radella's broken body. "Let me through," he requested. "I'm a friend of her brother's. I know where he lives and can take her to him."
The Watchers knew that Radella didn't have a brother, but the other observers didn't. They helped Galvin arrange the corpse on a makeshift stretcher, so he could cart her off.
Making his way around the crowd, Andres approached Lysander. "Are you okay?"
Lysander looked at him blankly. "She died."
"She'll get better," Andres reassured him.
"It's my job to find out where she's going, isn't it?" Lysander asked numbly.
"Assuming you're willing. The Watchers can't force you to relocate."
"I..." Lysander looked back towards Galvin and Radella. "What about my things?"
"I'll stay with them," Andres indicated the two Immortals, "while you grab traveling supplies. Send word when she settles somewhere and I can either send the rest of your possessions or arrange for a replacement. If there are other Watchers in an area you pass through, you should check in with them. One of them may be able to relieve you if Radella travels farther than you wish to follow."
Lysander nodded and entered the marketplace.
Radella woke up and opened her eyes. Realizing that she was being dragged through the streets on some kind of stretcher, she quickly closed them again. She continued to play dead until she felt the stretcher carefully lowered and heard Galvin whisper her name.
Sitting up, she turned to look at him. "What happened?"
"You were hit by a wagon. I told everyone I was bringing your body to your brother."
"Is there anything I can bring you?" Galvin offered.
The beautiful Immortal hesitated. Since her accidental death had been well planned, she had already left her most important belongings in Lysander's care. Not asking for anything might seem a little odd, but Lysander probably wouldn't want the risk of running into Galvin. It suddenly occurred to Radella that it might not be Galvin himself that Lysander objected to, but being seen by a Watcher following Galvin. "I think I'll be okay," she said at last.
"At least take my cloak." Galvin removed it with a flourish, offering the length of cloth to Radella. "Yours is ruined and there's a risk of being recognized this close to town."
With a sigh and a mournful glance at herself, Radella had to agree with Galvin. There wasn't time to properly access the damages but, even if it were possible to eventually clean and mend her garments, right now they were a sight. Radella accepted the cloak with a grateful smile, but returned the cloak clasp, using her own to fasten it instead. "Thank you."
Galvin nodded. "It's only courtesy; you'd do the same if our positions were reversed."
Lysander purchased a horse and gear in the marketplace before returning home as quickly as he could. Tying the horse outside, he removed the saddlebags and brought them inside for the ease of packing. Everything had been neatly sorted the night before, so he wouldn't have to waste time deciding what to bring now.
He started with the most valued of Radella's possessions, as she would not be able to retrieve any of her belongings now that she was dead and many of them were irreplaceable. Methos' journal was next, since it could expose him to the Watchers if Andres looked through it before sending it on. Lysander would be expected to carry Radella's Chronicles with him, in case he needed to pass them on to a replacement and he had no logical reason to want to leave the volume he was currently translating behind.
The remaining space was taken up by travel rations, a change of clothing for Lysander and anything that could be used as, or easily converted into, currency to cover their expenses. Radella already had her sword and Lysander wore his openly while on the road, since doing so could sometimes discourage bandits. Stefano had seen him with the weapon, but still sent him to Andres with a letter of recommendation, so it was unlikely to bother Andres. That covered the necessities and Andres had already agreed to forward the rest.
Lysander carried the bags outside and secured all his belongings on the horse before mounting himself. He headed out of town in approximately the direction Galvin had taken, keeping alert for Andres as he went. He encountered the other Watcher just outside of town. "I hope you don't mind," Lysander indicated the horse, "but I thought it would be faster in the long run."
Andres nodded. "Good thinking. You should be able to catch up easily. Radella seems to be just following the road for the moment." Andres gestured back the way he had come. "Be careful you don't miss her. Galvin gave her his cloak to conceal her identity and the state of her clothes."
"A lone traveler well-concealed in a cloak." Lysander smiled. "She shouldn't be too hard to spot." He nudged his horse forward a few steps, then stopped again, turning in the saddle to look back at Andres. "Good bye. I'll... keep in touch."
"You'd better." Andres smiled. "After all, you are going to continue translating Chronicles for me, aren't you?"
With a laugh, Lysander nodded and turned to head down the road after Radella.
Together they traveled around Greece, seeking a place that suited their purpose. It had to be remote enough that no other Immortals or Watchers currently resided there or would be likely to do so in the future. Lysander wanted to remain close enough that maintaining regular correspondence with Andres would be feasible. On the other hand, they had to travel far enough that Radella's recent death would not be known there.
Eventually, they found a peaceful village near the sea. Radella suggested that they pose as man and wife with a mischievous glint that suggested that, this time, she didn't mind if doing so gave Methos ideas.
Lysander, however, objected. There weren't going to be any Watchers living in the village, but some would visit on occasion and he didn't want to be too obvious to them. He suggested a compromise - they could be neighbors. Radella agreed to this, so they purchased two dwellings next door to each other. The Immortals settled in and Lysander wrote to Andres with their new location, so his remaining possessions could be sent to him.
A few nights later, Lysander asked, "Would you mind telling me a few stories about your past?"
"My past?" Radella looked at him with raised eyebrows. "You're the one with a past."
"I'd gladly match you, story for story," Lysander replied with a grin.
"Of course I'm willing..." Comprehension dawned. "This isn't for you, it's for the Watchers."
Lysander shrugged. "Does that bother you?"
Radella considered this. "No, I guess not. It's your way of repaying them for your own secrecy."
The two Immortals spent most of their time together, gradually becoming more comfortable and relaxed in each other's company and the new situation they had arranged for themselves. Neither would quite remember later how they had ended up in Lysander's bedroom together, but this time no one pulled away.
Afterwards, Lysander lay back in contentment, one arm still loosely encircling Radella.
Snuggling against him, Radella murmured, "I didn't know some of those things were possible."
Giving her a gentle smile, Lysander looked into Radella's eyes, which glowed with delight. "I've seen a lot in four and a half millennium."
"Then you have to hold yourself back when you can't admit to even four and a half decades?" Radella teased.
"I haven't heard any complaints."
Radella laughed. It was a good response, but not actually an answer; very much in character for the mysterious Immortal she had fallen in love with.
"You have a beautiful laugh," Lysander said, gently stroking her cheek.
"But I've only had two centuries to practice it," Radella protested mischievously.
Lysander gave a laugh of his own. "Then I must be spending too much time with mortals."
Radella's reply was lost as Lysander leaned over and kissed her deeply.
The Immortal couple was very happy as weeks stretched into months. Lysander recorded everything he could about Radella, both her present day activities and the stories of her past that she shared with her lover. The parts that he didn't dare include in Radella's Chronicle, Methos wrote in his own journal instead.
When Radella heard about the journal, she playfully asked if she could see it sometime.
"Wouldn't you rather hear about my life from me?" Lysander asked with a smile.
"Not if I have to tell you a story for each one I hear," Radella replied. "I'm only two hundred and three. I doubt I have enough stories to cover even the highlights of your life."
"I promise I won't stop talking to you just because you run out of stories. That's not why I fell in love with you." Methos grew more solemn and looked Radella in the eyes. "However, I would prefer if you didn't read my journal. It's not meant to be read by anyone else, so it's the only place I can write freely. My journal contains things I'd rather you not see, things you wouldn't want to see, like the inner workings of the Watchers."
Radella nodded. "I understand. You like your privacy and I already intrude on that more than you're normally comfortable with. I wasn't entirely serious about reading your journal and I won't even consider doing so now."
Several months later, the two Immortals were returning from a walk. Lysander kissed Radella just outside her door before approaching his own dwelling, but as he started to enter his house, someone stepped up behind him. "Lysander."
The Immortal Watcher turned his head. "Andres? I wasn't expecting you."
Andres nodded. "Galvin left Greece and I choose not to follow him once my replacement was found. That left me without an assignment, so I thought I'd stop by and see how you were doing on my way home."
Lysander gestured towards the house. "Come in. I'll..."
"We need to talk," Andres interrupted. "Away from here," he added, glancing at the building next door.
Following Andres' gaze to the building Radella had entered not so long ago, Lysander realized that the Watcher must have seen her. Lysander sighed. "All right. I know a spot with a view of the sea where we should be able to talk in privacy." Together they set off, walking in silence.
A few minutes later, Radella left her house and approached Lysander's. She could sense no one was home, but she knocked on the door anyway. "Lysander?" Not surprisingly, there was no answer. She wondered where he could be.
Finally the two Watchers were far enough from town for Andres to feel comfortable speaking. "I saw you together."
"Why... How..." The situation seemed so incomprehensible that Andres had trouble putting even the question into words.
"It... happened." Lysander made a feeble attempt at a shrug and a smile. "Emmanuele did suggest that I admit to finding her attractive if I got caught."
Andres shook his head. "But that should have been the end of it. A Watcher who gets caught asks for a new assignment. They don't..." He gestured helplessly.
"Fall in love," Lysander finished quietly.
The other Watcher examined him closely. "Do you really love her?"
"Does she love you?"
"I believe so. She said she did."
Andres looked at the sea. "Then if I try to separate you, I'd be interfering myself." He shook his head. "I..." He looked at Lysander. "You must understand why I can't allow you to remain in the Watchers - in any capacity."
Lysander nodded slowly. He did understand and a part of him even agreed with the decision. Radella would get a new Watcher who would record some of Lysander's activities, but as Radella's mortal lover, not as Methos. If it wasn't costing him Andres' friendship, Lysander might even find the situation amusing.
"How much... How much editing does Radella's Chronicle need?" Andres asked hesitantly.
Sensing the approach of another Immortal, Lysander slowly started walking towards the nearby cliff, hoping Radella would get the message and not disturb them. "Not much. I recorded pretty much everything except the identity of her lover."
Spotting them, Radella slowed her pace in puzzlement. Could Lysander have somehow not noticed her? She knew Methos could ignore his senses when he chose to do so, but he reserved that ability for unknown Immortals which she hardly qualified as after sharing his bed for nearly a year.
Walking with Lysander, Andres nodded. "Is there anything else..." A more specific question suddenly occurred to the Watcher. "Does she... Did you tell her about us?"
Lysander hesitated. Andres had already decided that preserving his own oath took priority over correcting Lysander's violations and Radella had expressed a lack of interest in doing anything with the information. "I... I told her we existed but, after I explained the oath, she didn't want to hear any more." Lysander shook his head. "She's not a threat to the Watchers. I wouldn't have said anything if I thought she was."
Close enough to hear Lysander's words, Radella suddenly realized why he was ignoring her. She didn't know much about Watchers but, to be any good at their job, they would have to be able to recognize the signs of one Immortal sensing another. She considered leaving but instead took cover behind a nearby bush.
"Anything... Anything else?" Andres asked.
Reaching the edge of the cliff, Lysander turned to face his friend, giving a quick glance for Radella in the process. He shook his head. "I can't think of anything." Nothing specifically about Radella, in any case.
"Then I guess all that's left is for me to collect the Chronicles in your care. I am sorry to lose you."
"I..." Lysander looked back out at the sea, uncertain about what he wanted to say. As he shifted his weight, the edge of the cliff gave way. Lysander lost his balance and fell amid a shower of dirt and pebbles. Desperately, he clawed at the passing rock and miraculously found a handhold.
Andres lay down, keeping most of his weight on more stable ground as he extended an arm towards his dangling friend. "Lysander! Can you reach me? If you grab my hand, I'll pull you up."
Lysander looked up. The grip his left hand had on the stone seemed secure enough, but the sleeve of his tunic had been shredded by the attempts to obtain it. Though the cloth was stained with fresh blood, the wounds underneath were already starting to heal. The man offering to save him was a Watcher - a Watcher who had already stated his disapproval of Watcher-Immortal friendships. Methos couldn't take the risk. As he reached up with his right hand, he allowed his left hand to slip.
Unable to remain in hiding while events unfolded, Radella had made her way onto the cliff and was just in time to see her lover fall. "Lysander!"
Methos had known that Radella was nearby, but not quite how close she was. He hoped that she could forgive him. Then he hit the waves and the force of the impact caused him to loose consciousness.
Radella stood there sobbing. Immortal or not, she knew Lysander wasn't coming back.
Andres watched her as he slowly found his way to his feet. Part of him wished he could comfort her, but he knew it wasn't possible. Another part wanted to run away, out of sight of the beautiful Immortal, but invisible strings seemed to hold him to the spot where Lysander fell. Unfortunately, the tide would wash the body out to sea. He wouldn't even get a proper burial.
The presence of the Watcher slowly penetrated, reminding Radella that Methos had left behind a personal journal containing information that could reveal him to the Watchers. She turned and raced back to Lysander's house. It hadn't changed since the last time she had been there, still waiting expectantly for Lysander's return. Radella searched the books quickly, ignoring anything with the Watchers' symbol on it. Lysander owned a lot more reading material than she had realized. The largest book turned out to be the sought after journal, appropriate since Methos' story was much longer than that of anyone else alive.
That was her primary goal, but she looked around for memorabilia and gasped in horror. Lysander had left his sword behind! He was unarmed! No, she assured herself, that didn't necessarily follow. This could be a spare. Besides, Methos was highly resourceful. Even if he was currently weaponless, he wouldn't stay that way long.
She wrapped the scabbard in Lysander's favorite cloak to conceal it from any Watchers or nosey villagers who might be nearby and took a couple of smaller items to remember Lysander by. Leaving the house by the front door, Radella saw the Watcher waiting on the other side of the street. They stared at each other a moment. "I didn't touch your precious Chronicles," Radella spat. "I only took those things I knew Lysander would want me to have."
Andres hesitated, his Watcher oath warring with the intentions behind it. He wasn't allowed to speak to Immortals, but Radella already knew about them and her bitterness over the death of her lover could easily turn to hatred for the organization. He couldn't allow that to happen if a few words from him could prevent it. "I may have been unhappy about what Lysander did, but he was still my friend. I didn't want him to die any more than you did." Andres searched Radella's face for any sign of understanding.
Radella realized the truth of his words. The Watcher had tried to save Lysander. Also, she realized, to the man before her, Lysander was truly dead. Even if it took another fifty years, Radella eventually would see Methos again. Besides, the Watchers weren't really to blame. Their rules were valid. It was Methos' obsession with and warped sense of loyalty to the organization that had caused her problems. Briefly she wondered if Methos truly believed that he was helping the Watchers like this, or was merely trying to justify to himself actions that he would have taken anyway. Radella nodded slowly. "You tried to save him. His death was an accident." She turned to go, but the Watcher was still staring at her. She looked back at him. "I suppose you want me to tell you where I'm going."
Andres shook his head. "We'll find you. That's our job." He waited until Radella had disappeared inside her own house before entering Lysander's to retrieve the Chronicles.
(Five years later)
Radella slowly made her way home. Most women wouldn't want to travel alone this late at night. Then again, most women didn't carry a sword and know how to use it. Suddenly she sensed a presence, but the Immortal was concealed by darkness. Radella stopped, looking around. "Who's there?"
"It's only me." A humanoid shadow separated itself from the surroundings, moving closer until Radella could make out the eldest Immortal in the moonlight.
"And what should I call you today?" Radella asked critically.
Methos shrugged. "Whatever you wish. Your Watcher isn't here."
"If you want your book back, I don't have it with me."
"I... What I want is to apologize. I didn't want to leave you, but my arm was bleeding and..."
Radella nodded. Methos wouldn't allow himself to be caught infiltrating the Watchers.
"I really do love you," he said softly.
"I know," Radella replied just as softly. "But you love yourself more. Whether you tell them to me or not, your secrets will always come between us. I don't want to put myself through that again. I'm sorry."
"I wish it didn't have to end like this," Methos said sadly.
Radella stared at him a moment. "If you meet me in London at the beginning of next month, I'll return your journal." Without waiting for a response, she stepped silently past him and was on her way home.
Methos watched her leave, following her progress through their auras, even after his eyes lost her to the darkness. He had done the one thing he had sworn not to. He had tainted her innocence. Slowly, he turned and walked away.
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